Dorset Police

Dorset Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the county of Dorset in the south-west of England, which includes the largely rural area covered by Dorset Council, and the urban conurbation of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Dorset Police
Logo of Dorset Police
Agency overview
Formed1 April 1974
Preceding agencies
  • Dorset County Constabulary
  • Bournemouth Borough Police
  • Dorset and Bournemouth Constabulary
Annual budget£211.1m (2018-2019) [1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionDorset, England
England Police Forces (Dorset).svg
Map of police area
Size1,024 square miles (2,650 km2)
Legal jurisdictionEngland & Wales
Constituting instrument
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed byIndependent Office for Police Conduct/Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary
Constables1,383 (of which 111 are special constables)[2]
Police Community Support Officers123[2]
Police and Crime Commissioner responsible
Agency executive

Dorset Police covers a population of over 700,000, which swells considerably in the tourist season. As of September 2019, the force is the 14th smallest of 48 UK police forces in terms of officer numbers,[2] and the 20th smallest territorial police force in terms of geographic area.


Dorset County Constabulary was formed in 1855. In 1965, Dorset County Constabulary had an establishment of 544 and an actual strength of 466.[3]

On 1 October 1967 it merged with Bournemouth Borough Police to form Dorset and Bournemouth Constabulary. On 1 April 1974 this force took over some areas (mainly Christchurch and its hinterland) from Hampshire Constabulary and acquired its present name.


Dorset Police was formerly responsible to the Dorset Police Authority, which was replaced in 2012 by an elected Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner.

Organisation and OperationsEdit

Dorset Police often work with other organisations to assist in emergencies, such as Dorset Search and Rescue who assist in the search and recovery of missing persons.


In the 2018-2019 financial year, Dorset Police:

  • Received 104,028 emergency calls and 420,677 non-emergency calls
  • Recorded 183,412 incidents, including 55,028 crimes
  • Made 10,515 arrests
  • Dealt with 5,832 missing persons incidents and 7,426 mental health incidents


Criminal Investigation DepartmentEdit

CID is based at Dorset's divisional headquarters in Bournemouth & Weymouth, and provides advice to all policing units on crime-related matters and maintaining a corporate approach to reducing crime, as well as providing specialist and investigative roles. The department is split into numerous sub-departments, which include but are not restricted to, Child Abuse Investigation Teams, Volume Crime Teams, Priority Crime Teams, Financial Investigation Units, Major Crimes Investigation Teams and Serious Sexual Offences.[4]

Roads Policing UnitEdit

Dorset Police is responsible for policing sections of 14 'A' roads including A338, A35, A350, A354 and A37. There are no motorways located within Dorset.

Dorset Police have a total of ~450 vehicles, from 20 different manufacturers, and drive a total of 7.5 million miles a year.[5][6]

Ports Policing UnitEdit

The Dorset Police Ports Policing Unit is responsible for policing all designated and non-designated ports in Dorset, making sure that legislation is followed, particularly the Terrorism Act 2000. It also obtains any intelligence on smuggling and contraband. Ports in Dorset include Poole Harbour, Swanage Harbour, Portland Harbour, Weymouth Harbour, Christchurch Harbour and Bournemouth Airport.

Marine Policing UnitEdit

Dorset Police' Marine Unit is responsible for policing the 89 miles of Dorset's coastline and up to 12 miles out to sea. The area is one the busiest coastal areas in the UK, including two of the busiest ports, numerous shipping lanes, thousands of private moorings, the RNLI's busiest callout area and a training centre for the Royal Marines.[7]

Armed Response UnitEdit

Dorset Police's Armed Response Group is a 24/7 sub-department of the Operations department that responds to major and serious crimes where firearms are involved. The unit responds to incidents with the capability of firearms and Taser deployment. As of 2011, they were working hard to 'crack-down' on imitation firearms. BMW X5s are the main vehicle used by this unit in black or dark blue.[8][9]

Dog SectionEdit

Dorset Police has had a Dog Section since 1953; the unit is based in Eastern Division HQ in Ferndown. The unit comprises 1 Inspector, 2 Sergeants and 18 Constables and almost 30 dogs, including German Shepherds, Labradors and English Springer Spaniels.[10]

Air Operations UnitEdit

Dorset Police formerly operated an MD 902 helicopter from its headquarters at Winfrith.[11] In 2012, the National Police Air Service (NPAS) was created, and all police air support units in England and Wales were gradually transferred to it.[12] The NPAS inherited 23 bases, including Winfrith, but this was eventually reduced to 14.[13] A helicopter remained based at Winfrith until 26 September 2014, when it was moved to a new home at Bournemouth Airport.


The headquarters of Dorset Police is at Winfrith, roughly halfway between Weymouth and Poole. Police stations open to the public are located at Blandford, Bournemouth Central, Bridport, Gillingham, Poole, Sherborne, Swanage and Weymouth. The opening hours of some of these stations are, however, very limited.

Stations without a public front desk are Boscombe, Dorchester, Ferndown, Shaftesbury, Sturminster Newton, Verwood, Wareham, Wimborne and Winton.[14]

In September 2017, the Christchurch neighbourhood policing team moved from the site on Barrack Road to the fire station on Fairmile, further advancing the relationship with Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. All the response officers who cover the Christchurch area are now based in Ferndown.[15]

Uniforms and equipmentEdit


Male police officers wear the traditional custodian helmet in the comb style with a Brunswick star that reads 'Dorset Police' for foot patrol, a peaked cap for when on mobile patrol in vehicles, and a white peaked cap for traffic officers. Female officers wear a bowler hat, or a white bowler hat for traffic officers.

When on duty officers wear black combat trousers and wicking T-shirts. Dorset Police no longer use the traditional police jumper, having favoured the black fleece with police written on the chest and back. Dorset Police do not have Brunswick stars on their epaulettes, just the rank and collar number (or just collar number for constables). Regular Officers and Special Constables wear the same uniform. High Visibility Tac Vests are now issued to all officers, along with Body Armour. The idea of these utility vests are to spread the weight of the equipment carried by officers across the torso rather than place strain on the waist.

Formal dress comprises an open-necked tunic, with white shirt/blouse and tie/cravat. Constables and Sergeants wear custodian helmet's and collar numbers on their epaulettes, all higher-ranked officers wear peaked caps with their rank and collar numbers on their epaulettes. The No.1 uniform is accompanied by black boots or shoes and occasionally white gloves, or brown gloves for the rank of Inspector and above.


Dorset Police use TETRA digital radios (Motorola), Samsung Smartphones, rigid handcuffs, the ASP 21" collapsible baton and PAVA 2 Incapacitant Spray (in place of CS Gas issued to Metropolitan Police officers).[citation needed]

As of early 2015, in an effort to increase efficiency, reduce bureaucracy, and increase officer visibility, officers now have access to Windows Tablet PCs with mobile data cards to allow them to complete paperwork, and undertake proactive work using tools such as ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) whilst out of the station.[citation needed]


Dorset Police have a total of around 450 vehicles, and drive a total of 7.5 million miles a year. The force mainly use a combination of Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra estate cars as divisional units. Most rural areas have 4x4 capability in the form of Land Rover Freelander 2s or Skoda Yetis. Roads policing units in Dorset are a combination of BMW Tourings, Ford Focus STs, as well as newer Audis and Volvos. Firearms units in Dorset normally use BMW X5s in black or blue, but have been known to use other vehicles. Vehicles made by other manufacturers are part of the fleet as well.[citation needed]

Dorset Police stopped using the 'jam sandwich' police car markings between 2000 and 2005, and now use modern yellow and blue retro-reflective battenberg markings on all operational vehicles, as well as the force crest on the bonnet. Most of the non-operational fleet also feature the force crest and website links.[citation needed]

Strength and recruitmentEdit

As of September 2019, the force had a headcount of 1,272 police officers, 1,160 police staff, 123 police community support officers, 71 designated officers and 111 special constables.[2]

Training for new recruits in Dorset is held at the Headquarters in Winfrith. For Police Constables it consists of eight months' training and a two-year probationary period. For PCSOs it consists of 18 weeks' training and a 15-week probationary period. For Special Constables it consists of a similar but shorter programme of training during weeknights and weekends, accompanied by a two-year probationary period or less, dependent on the hours they can commit a month. Recruits receive their warrant card and uniform during training. Once the training period is over, the new officers are posted in a local division.

Chief ConstablesEdit

  • ??–1962 : Ronald Berry Greenwood
  • 1962–1980 : Arthur Hambleton
  • 1995–>1998 : D.W. Aldous
  • Jane Stichbury
  • 2005–2012 : Martin Baker
  • 2013–2018 : Debbie Simpson
  • 2018– : James Vaughan

Officers killed in the line of dutyEdit

The Police Roll of Honour Trust lists and commemorates all British police officers killed in the line of duty. The Police Memorial Trust since its establishment in 1984 has erected over 38 memorials to some of those officers.

Since 1877 the following officers of Dorset Police were killed while attempting to prevent or stop a crime in progress:[16]

  • Police Constable Thomas Bishop, 1877 (fatally injured by stones thrown by a drunk man)[17]


British Crime SurveyEdit

The British Crime Survey for 2010 found that there was an overall fall in crime in Dorset by 2.5%, and the largest fall in crime was robbery, which fell by 20%, making Dorset Police the eighth best performing force out of 43 in England and Wales, and first in forces similar to Dorset.[18]

The performance figures from Dorset Police comparing April to December 2009 with the same period during 2008, showed a 9.9% drop in burglary, an 8.5 per cent drop in criminal damage, a 3.5 per cent fall in vehicle crime, a 3% drop in total violent crime, and a 17.8 per cent fall in the most serious violent crime. Criminal damage fell by 5.8%, violence against the person without injury by 9.3%, violence against the person by 5.2%, drug offences by 5.1% and there was a 2.8 per cent fall in total recorded crime.[19]

According to the British Crime Survey, 63.8 per cent of people think Dorset Police deals with local concerns, making Dorset the best performing force in England and Wales for that issue.

Some 9.9% of people say there is a high level of perceived anti-social behaviour, making Dorset the eighth best performing force in England and Wales – and the top performing force among its family of five most similar forces. Some 17.6% of people said there was a big problem with drugs while 18.8 per cent of people in Dorset said there was a big problem with drunk and rowdy behaviour. 51.6% of people in Dorset agreed that the police and local councils were dealing with issues, making Dorset the twelfth best performing force in England and Wales.[20][21]

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of ConstabularyEdit

In 2010, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary graded Dorset Police overall as 'fair' on local crime and policing, protection from serious harm, confidence and satisfaction. In detail they were graded as 'fair' at Neighbourhood Policing, neighbourhood presence and solving crime. They were rated as 'good' at reducing crime. They were graded 'excellent' at suppressing gun crime, suppressing knife crime, comparative satisfaction of the BME community, confidence in the police and proportion of police cost met by council. They were scored 'poor' and 'stable' on reducing road death and injury.[22]

Alliances and merger proposalsEdit

In 2006 the Home Office announced plans to reduce the number of police forces in the UK from 42 to 24.[23] This would have seen Dorset Police merge with Gloucestershire Constabulary, Devon and Cornwall Police, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Wiltshire Police. The plans were publicly criticised by all the involved forces, stating that it would lead to poor quality service and a reduction in local policing.[24] The merger plans were abandoned in August 2006 by the then Home Secretary, John Reid.[25]

Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police announced in December 2013 that their Chief Constables and PCCs were exploring opportunities for greater collaboration; to save costs without reducing service, and share assets, resources, expertise and best practice. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) defines a strategic alliance as: "An agreement between two or more forces to pursue a set of agreed objectives, while retaining separate identities." A strategic alliance was agreed to in March 2015, covering over 30 administrative and operational business areas (almost 40% of the total activity of the two forces). These business areas include admin services, finance, human resources, fleet services and ICT, together with some specialist policing teams. The first joint teams became operational in April 2016. In each business area, there is a single team and management structure made up from people from both organisations, to work on behalf of both forces. Any costs and savings are shared in proportion to the size of each force. So far[when?] the strategic alliance project is on track to achieve the initial target of £12m of combined annual savings by 2018.

In September 2017 it was announced that Dorset Police and Devon and Cornwall Police were looking at merging to form a single force.[26] This was cancelled in October 2018 when the PCC for Devon and Cornwall was unwilling to submit the merger plans to the home officer for consideration.[27]

Dorset Police Male Voice ChoirEdit

The Dorset Police Male Voice Choir was founded on 4 July 1995 as independent charity that today has 60 members, that perform regularly throughout Dorset. The choir has performed throughout England and also France, Guernsey, Ireland and the USA. The choir has so far raised over £250,000 for charity.[28]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "2018-2019 PCC Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Police workforce, England and Wales: 30 September 2019". GOV.UK. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  3. ^ The Thin Blue Line, Police Council for Great Britain Staff Side Claim for Undermanning Supplements, 1965
  4. ^ "CID". Dorset Police. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  5. ^ "Transport Department". Dorset Police. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  6. ^ "Traffic Department". Dorset Police. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  7. ^ "Marine Section". Dorset Police. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  8. ^ "Boy, six, sparks new guns fear". BBC News. 3 July 2001. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  9. ^ "Tactical Firearms Unit". Dorset Police. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  10. ^ "Dog Section". Dorset Police. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  11. ^ "Dorset police defend their helicopter". Daily Echo. 16 February 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  12. ^ "New police air service takes off". BBC. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  13. ^ "Bases map | National Police Air Service". Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Visit Us". Dorset Police. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  15. ^ "Christchurch police station set for closure". BBC. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  16. ^
  17. ^ The incident occurred in Bere Regis following the Woodbury Hill Fair. Bere Regis Murders Archived 30 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Bere Regis village website history section. 2004. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Dorset crime figures down". Western Gazette. 29 January 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  19. ^ "Dorset police statistics over Christmas and New Year - crime falls". Weymouth People. 12 January 2010. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  20. ^ "Total crime in Dorset is down - Along with violent, sexual, robbery, criminal damage and drug offences". Dorset Police. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  21. ^ "Recorded crime in Weymouth". Dorset Echo. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  22. ^ "Report Card". Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. 13 March 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "Police forces 'to be cut to 24'". BBC News. 20 March 2006. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  24. ^ "Concerns over police merger plans". Salisbury Journal. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  25. ^ Dawar, Anil (20 August 2006). "Abandoned police force merger plans cost £11m". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  26. ^ "Police forces reveal merger plans". BBC News. 6 September 2017. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  27. ^ "Devon, Cornwall and Dorset Police force merger 'off'". BBC News. 5 October 2018. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  28. ^ "About Us". DPMVC. Retrieved 22 February 2020.

External linksEdit